Tag: emergency

Sask. hospital staff call out overcrowding, unsafe conditions in the emergency department

Nursing staff at St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon are calling on Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) to act on unsafe conditions in the emergency department.

CTV News obtained a letter to SHA leaders signed by 118 emergency department staff at St. Paul’s addresses overcrowding, unsafe ratios of nurses to patients and the indignity experienced by patients treated in hallways because of the lack of space.

Overcrowding leads to poorer patient outcomes, longer hospital stays and higher mortality rates, the letter says, and physicians have nowhere to properly assess people.

“We have great concerns that someday soon something bad will happen in our waiting room despite our best efforts to work in this broken system.”

With nowhere to treat new patients coming in, staff had to place people in hallway beds, “which are literally just stretchers in front of nursing desks and lined down hallways, with no safety equipment for the patients, call bells or oxygen.”

On Wednesday, the Saskatoon Fire Department said hallway beds were obstructing exit doors in the hospital, in violation of national fire code requirements.

“These deplorable conditions are leading to breaches in confidentiality, lack of dignity, and unsafe care provision due to no space with appropriate monitoring for care required,” the letter says.

“Staff report tremendous moral injury due to the conditions patients are placed in. Pad changes in the hallways while staff try hold sheets around the bed, examinations in the waiting rooms, chest pain patients with no heart monitor to observe their heart, cancer diagnoses given without privacy in the waiting room, sexual assaults with no bed to examine them or provide privacy,” staff wrote.

In an emailed statement, an SHA spokesperson told CTV News that a plan to deal with capacity pressure in Saskatoon’s hospitals

With city emergency winter shelters largely full, Anchorage Health Department calls for more beds

The Anchorage Assembly is scheduled Tuesday to consider a request from the Health Department to open 50 more shelter beds at the city’s 150-bed emergency winter mass homeless shelter site in Midtown.

On Monday, as Anchorage was hit with another snowstorm, the city’s three sites were almost full, according to Alexis Johnson, city homeless coordinator with the Health Department. Privately owned shelters are also largely full. The city opened a total of 524 winter shelter beds last month.

Johnson said just five beds were open at the 150-bed group shelter on 56th Avenue, located in an administrative building at Solid Waste Services’ former transfer station. And 11 hotel room shelter beds were open between the city’s two non-congregate sites at the Aviator Hotel in downtown and at the Alex Hotel and Suites in Spenard.

Meanwhile, at least several hundred people are living unsheltered — camping, sleeping in vehicles or on the streets and contending with harsh, wintry conditions. At least four people believed to be homeless have so far died outside in November, including two men in wheelchairs. A record of 49 have died in total in Anchorage this year so far.

Storms this month have so far dumped around 3 feet of snow in Anchorage. On Monday, fresh snowfall triggered more power outages and worsened already abysmal road and sidewalk conditions in some areas.

[Another heavy snowfall buries Anchorage, closing schools and clogging already bad roads]

Assembly member Felix Rivera, chair of the Assembly’s Housing and Homelessness Committee, said because the shelters have been consistently full or close to full, the administration has a good case

Niagara Health emergency department staff getting additional training




A wave of respiratory and viral infections led to a flood of children in Emergency Departments (EDs) across Ontario last fall. This fall, emergency medical staff at Niagara Health’s (NH) three EDs are getting extra training for the rare, but potentially life-threatening, complications that can arise from conditions including RSV, flu and COVID-19.

Niagara Health (NH) has teamed up with McMaster Children’s Hospital’s Simulation, Resuscitation and Outreach Center (SiROC) and McMaster University’s Centre for Simulation-Based Learning (CSBL) for three mock pediatric emergency and education sessions. It’s the first collaboration between all three institutions since 2018.

Although pediatric respiratory emergencies are rare, they require an immediate response from skilled staff.

“We are fortunate that we don’t have critically ill infants and children to look after often. But when we do, we want to be prepared,” says Vera Girard, Emergency Department Nurse Educator and Registered Nurse.

NH nurses and physicians are participating in three pediatric resuscitation scenarios involving a seizure, respiratory failure and pneumonia with sepsis, at each of the St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and Welland hospitals. Simulating these emergencies with high-tech mannequins from McMaster University can increase confidence levels, teamwork skills and communication. All of which, improve patient safety and outcomes.

“The simulation sessions give us a safe space to practice working together as a team, at a time when the stakes aren’t so high,” explains Girard.  “Practicing improves your performance, just like with any sports team. By practicing, we can identify supplies and equipment needs, knowledge or skill gaps, team dynamics issues and improve them so that in a real patient situation we have what we need to be at the top of our game.” 

NH hosted the first simulation at the St. Catharines hospital on Oct. 25, with another Nov. 1

Health care utilization and outcomes of patients seen by virtual urgent care versus in-person emergency department care


Background: Virtual urgent care (VUC) is intended to support diversion of patients with low-acuity complaints and reduce the need for in-person emergency department visits. We aimed to describe subsequent health care utilization and outcomes of patients who used VUC compared with similar patients who had an in-person emergency department visit.

Methods: We used patient-level encounter data that were prospectively collected for patients using VUC services provided by 14 pilot programs in Ontario, Canada. We linked the data to provincial administrative databases to identify subsequent 30-day health care utilization and outcomes. We defined 2 subgroups of VUC users; those with a documented prompt referral to an emergency department by a VUC provider, and those without. We matched patients in each cohort to an equal number of patients presenting to an emergency department in person, based on encounter date, medical concern and the logit of a propensity score. For the subgroup of patients not promptly referred to an emergency department, we matched patients to those who were seen in an emergency department and then discharged home.

Results: Of the 19 595 patient VUC visits linked to administrative data, we matched 2129 patients promptly referred to the emergency department by a VUC provider to patients presenting to the emergency department in person. Index visit hospital admissions (9.4% v. 8.7%), 30-day emergency department visits (17.0% v. 17.5%), and hospital admissions (12.9% v. 11.0%) were similar between the groups. We matched 14 179 patients who were seen by a VUC provider with no documented referral to the emergency department. Patients seen by VUC were more likely to have a subsequent in-person emergency department visit within 72 hours (13.7% v. 7.0%), 7 days (16.5% v. 10.3%) and 30 days (21.9% v. 17.9%), but hospital admissions were similar within 72 hours (1.1% v. 1.3%), and higher

South Okanagan General Hospital emergency room closed again

For the third time in a week, Interior Health is warning of a “temporary service interruption” at South Okanagan General Hospital in Oliver.

“Limited physician availability” will close the hospital’s emergency department – which is normally open 24 hours a day – from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, according to the health authority.

Patients seeking emergency services are being directed to Penticton Regional Hospital – about 40 minutes away – during the closure.

It’s the third time a lack of staff has closed the emergency room at SOGH in the last week.

The department was also closed overnight last Saturday into Sunday morning, and it closed again overnight on Wednesday into Thursday.

Limited physician availability was the reason cited on those occasions as well.

In recent weeks, the provincial government has touted its efforts to hire new health care workers, with Health Minister Adrian Dix claiming Tuesday that more than 5,200 “net new” nurses had been hired since January, along with 524 new international medical graduates that have registered and begun working in B.C.

On the ground, however, staffing clearly remains a challenge. South Okanagan General Hospital was one of at least three facilities in Interior Health to close due to lack of staff over the Thanksgiving long weekend, and health-care facilities continue to see reduced hours and unexpected closures in other health authorities, as well. 

In Merritt, Mayor Michael Goetz has threatened to withhold health-care payments to the province over repeated closures of the emergency department at Nicola Valley Hospital, and is urging other mayors to do the same. 

Although Goetz says he has the ear of the health minister and other provincial officials, he told CTV News this week the province has not provided a plan

New IWK emergency department to have dedicated mental health space


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HALIFAX, N.S. — Canon Beazley remembers ringing the bell at the IWK Health Centre following his treatment for Wilms’ tumour, the most common kidney cancer in children. 

The tradition, which signifies the end of a person’s cancer treatment, was made possible in November 2021 after Beazley underwent 26 weeks of treatment at the women and children’s hospital in Halifax. 

But as Beazley returned to his routine in Dartmouth, he noticed he didn’t feel the same from time to time. It was then his family realized he was having panic attack episodes.

“After a scary panic attack at hockey practice, I asked my mom to take me to the IWK emergency department,” said Beazley, 13, during a news conference at the IWK in Halifax on Wednesday. 

Canon Beazley, third from left, holds a check at a news conference where Bell Let's Talk announced it was donating $1 million to go toward a dedicated mental health space in the IWK's new emergency department, currently under construction, on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023.
Canon Beazley, third from left, holds a check at a news conference where Bell Let’s Talk announced it was donating $1 million to go toward a dedicated mental health space in the IWK’s new emergency department, currently under construction, on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023.

“I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, which was brought on by my cancer experience.” 

Jennifer Gillivan, president and chief administrative officer of the IWK Foundation, said there has been an increase in the number of emergency department visits at the IWK over the years, including those requiring emergency mental health care. 

“Our current emergency department has outgrown its space and infrastructure,” Gillivan said.

But the new $102-million emergency department being built will double the size of the current emergency department – and will now include a key component. 

Thanks to a $1-million donation from Bell Let’s Talk, an annual awareness and fundraising

Emergency department at hospital in Oliver to undergo another temporary closure – Okanagan

The emergency department at South Okanagan General Hospital in Oliver, B.C., will once again undergo an overnight closure due to staffing issues.

Citing limited physician availability, Interior Health announced on Saturday that emergency services will be unavailable from Saturday evening at 6 p.m. to Sunday at 8 a.m.

“Patients can access care at Penticton Regional Hospital during this time,” said Interior Health, adding that all other inpatient services will continue as normal at the hospital.

Click to play video: 'Merritt mayor taking action against province amid ER closures'

Merritt mayor taking action against province amid ER closures

The emergency department in Oliver is normally open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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The hospital has undergone several emergency department closures this year, including one this week when services were unavailable Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

On Friday, Interior Health announced that walk-in services would not be available at the South Similkameen Health Centre in Keremeos on Saturday, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., due to limited nursing availability.

The health centre is normally open Monday to Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Also, IH said the emergency department at the Slocan Community Health Centre in New Denver would be closed on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., due to limited staffing availability.

The emergency department in New Denver is normally open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Click to play video: 'B.C. prepares to reintroduce masks in health-care settings'

B.C. prepares to reintroduce masks in health-care settings

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Ontario Health Coalition raise concerns about emergency department closure

Small, rural and local hospital services are under threat of permanent closures, says the Ontario Health Coalition who urges the Ford government to take action.

“Emergency departments are repeatedly closing down, birthing closed, critical care gravely

understaffed, and yet the Ford government is doing substantially nothing,” said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition.

In northwestern Ontario, several emergency department closures occurred last year; however, Mehra said her main source of concern for the northwest pertains to the lack of planning for staff recruitment and retention.

The Wilson Memorial General Hospital in Marathon, Ontario, closed last December due to difficulties with staffing and essential services.

Red Lake Clinic in the northwestern Ontario town also temporarily closed down its emergency room due to a physician shortage in 2022.

The province cancelled funding for summer locums at the end of the last fiscal year, on March 31, Metra said. Although the funding has been reinstated, she feels that there hasn’t been much progress.

“How long do people continue like that and with the aging physician workforce,” she said. “I think that the issues are a bit different [in the northwest]. The distances are much more severe if anything closes… But what we’re seeing is this failure to act as the crisis worsens, it really does raise your red flags for the Northwest.”

Jules Tupker, chair of the Thunder Bay Health Coalition, also said he is concerned for his region.

“There’s a real concern in northwestern Ontario because of the distances,” he said. “Relating to Fort Frances, there’s an emergency room in Rainy River Health Center, which is an hour’s drive from Fort France. There’s an emergency room there, but it’s not mandated that there’s an emergency doctor that’s available.”

Also in attendance at the press conference on September 15 were

Renovations for waiting room of Halifax’s largest emergency department set to begin – Halifax

The QEII Health Sciences Centre’s emergency department is undergoing renovations as part of the hospital’s ongoing redevelopment project.

In a release Tuesday morning, the Nova Scotia Health Authority said patients and visitors to the Halifax Infirmary emergency department will notice construction taking place in the waiting room Wednesday.

“The upgrades will improve care by providing a better experience for both patients and staff,” the release said.

The emergency room renovations will last for about five weeks, and during that time, a second emergency department patient advocate will be assigned to the emergency room to support patients and staff.

“We are working hard to minimize the impact of construction and ensure safety, comfort and privacy for those in the waiting room,” the release said.

According to NSHA spokesperson Brendan Elliott, the renovations will entail relocating medical gas and steam lines, allowing the hospital to construct an inpatient acute care tower that was previously announced as part of the redevelopment.

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“Steam lines are crucial for heating the hospital so this work needs to be completed before winter,” Elliott noted.

Long-awaited project

The QEII redevelopment project has been in the works for years. First announced by the former Liberal government in 2016, the project was initially supposed to cost $2 billion.

In December 2022, Tim Houston’s Progressive Conservative government announced it was changing the scope of the project, and that it would cost substantially more, but exactly how much was not said.

An auditor general’s report released in April said the province was falling behind on the long-awaited project.

In May, the province said it would soon break ground after a deal was signed

Emergency department visits and hospital admissions for suicidal ideation, self-poisoning and self-harm among adolescents in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic had profound effects on the mental wellbeing of adolescents. We sought to evaluate pandemic-related changes in health care use for suicidal ideation, self-poisoning and self-harm.

Methods: We obtained data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information on emergency department visits and hospital admissions from April 2015 to March 2022 among adolescents aged 10–18 years in Canada. We calculated the quarterly percentage of emergency department visits and hospital admissions for a composite outcome comprising suicidal ideation, self-poisoning and self-harm relative to all-cause emergency department visits and hospital admissions. We used interrupted time-series methods to compare changes in levels and trends of these outcomes between the prepandemic (Apr. 1, 2015–Mar. 1, 2020) and pandemic (Apr. 1, 2020–Mar. 31, 2022) periods.

Results: The average quarterly percentage of emergency department visits for suicidal ideation, self-poisoning and self-harm relative to all-cause emergency department visits was 2.30% during the prepandemic period and 3.52% during the pandemic period. The level (0.08%, 95% confidence interval [CI] −0.79% to 0.95%) or trend (0.07% per quarter, 95% CI −0.14% to 0.28%) of this percentage did not change significantly between periods. The average quarterly percentage of hospital admissions for the composite outcome relative to all-cause admissions was 7.18% during the prepandemic period and 8.96% during the pandemic period. This percentage showed no significant change in level (−0.70%, 95% CI −1.90% to 0.50%), but did show a significantly increasing trend (0.36% per quarter; 95% 0.07% to 0.65%) during the pandemic versus prepandemic periods, specifically among females aged 10–14 years (0.76% per quarter, 95% CI 0.22% to 1.30%) and females aged 15–18 years (0.56% per quarter, 95% CI 0.31% to 0.81%).

Interpretation: The quarterly change in the percentage of hospital admissions for suicidal ideation, self-poisoning and self-harm increased among adolescent females in Canada during the first 2 years

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